Welcome to Metro.co.uk‘s The Big Questions, where we ask, well, the big questions (and the smaller ones too) and this week, we’re diving deep with Katherine Ryan.
We unpack *a lot* with the comedian and author, who is currently on her Missus tour and recently released book The Audacity, from her campaign with Internet Matters and Electronic Arts to get people installing parental controls of gaming consoles ahead of Christmas, to criticism about a recent post she shared of her daughter in Halloween make-up.
And of course we had to unpack what is going on with Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson…
Side note: if you’ve missed The Big Questions with the likes of James Arthur, Matt Edmondson and The Wanted, catch up while you’re here.
Your latest campaign is encouraging the use of parental controls for gaming – when did it dawn on you that you had a 12-year-old and these needed to become a thing?
I think I’ve always prioritised safety and age-appropriate boundaries for Violet. When she was born, and when I was expecting, I never put any photos of scans, I was really protective. I think that was because I myself was figuring out social media and online culture.
Now she’s older, I do put a few photos, because she likes to be on there. But I’m acutely aware of some sides of online relationships and even gaming. You can get messages from some unsavoury people and she’s playing games where you do interact. I did forget to put parental controls on some apps and had huge charges on my credit card.
With gaming, you can do it in a safe way and parental controls are key. It’s not news to me, I’ve been aware step by step and vigilant all my life.
I tell Violet, you don’t have a phone, I have a phone, no phone company would give you a contract. You are 12. You don’t have a gaming console, I have a gaming console.
It is down to parents to protect the safety of their children but also that investment, it’s not just about the time you set, but the quality of gameplay.
You recently received messages from people concerned Violet was sporting black eyes in your Halloween family snap, accusing you of covering them up. Did that frankly bonkers response put you off sharing your life on social media?
No, it doesn’t discourage me from posting her because I don’t really mind. I understand that once you put something out in public domain then it is up for criticism and up for debate. That’s a huge reason people should be careful about what they post in the first place. It surprised me a little bit that on Halloween she would have ‘black eyes’ and not just Halloween makeup.
It was just a sweet thing actually, she didn’t want to be the Incredibles, she had a spooky costume with her friends, and that’s why she had all this black makeup on, but she’s such a lovely girl and put on the costume to be part of the family photo and took it off. And she said to me [amid the criticism], “oh just explain it to them mummy”.
It was great and a real opportunity for a teaching moment because I said “no one is owed an explanation. We don’t have to explain why you had this Halloween makeup on.” It was an opportunity for me to teach Violet just be comfortable in people’s wilful misunderstanding of your online content because it’s going to happen again. You don’t always have to correct people. In the end, I didn’t regret it at all, it was good.
Have you always been cool, calm and collected when it comes to this, or was there a time you stressed at setting the record straight?
I don’t mind about setting the record straight, I think I’ve always been that way, at least [as an adult]… I feel like the correction will reveal itself eventually. I’m very comfortable in silence. I love it, actually.
I don’t have the impulse to have the last word, I don’t mind. And if people are entertained by a falsehood then that’s fine with me, too. I just want people to be entertained full stop. If I’m the punchline or they get something wrong about me…
Plastic surgery is a good example of that, people think I’ve had loads and loads of plastic surgery and I don’t often bother to correct them because I don’t care. If they get a kick out of it and they want to gossip or criticise my face, I actually don’t care so I just let them do it. I like being in on the joke. There is too much earnest, serious behavior in society today.
Adele recently spoke about her son having no idea she’s famous. Does Violet know you have a profile?
How old is Adele’s son?
I think he’s nine?
Oh, well…what?! How can you not know who Adele is?
I mean, there was a lovely story: Jo Brand told me one of her children came home from school and turned to her and said ‘mum, are you Jo Brand?!’ I think she uses her married name possibly at home.
Violet is both aware and largely unimpressed by my profile. She’s raised very much around comedians, she’s come on tour with me since her infancy and she likes it, she gets a little bit of a kick about it when she gets to do special things. She got to go backstage and see Billie Eilish at Leeds Festival, so she gets some perks. But I’m not TikTok famous so she’s not interested.
In your book you wrote about panel shows still hiring the headline male comedians and dotting them with some ‘beautiful entertainment women’. Why is there still comedy inequality on these shows?
I mean, it’s such a tricky, very nuanced conversation. When I wrote about it in my book I had the space to explain my position on it fully. Long answer short, I think that TV companies and commissioners are in a difficult position because even if they want to make a change they are beholden to viewership and audience. I do think that a large part of the audience still believes men are funnier than women and they want to see funny men, and celebrity women laughing at these funny men.
I’m very peaceful and positive it’s changing, possibly not quickly enough. People vote with their remote. I think it’s the responsibility can’t just lay with commissioners, I think it lays with the audience, if you want to see more grassroots standup comedians from different ethnicities, genders, socio-economic backgrounds, you can support them in your local comedy clubs and watch shows that feature them.
People think just men are funny, I don’t just mean men, there are loads of women who will openly say to me ‘I don’t think women are funny, I only think men are funny’. It’s about changing that attitude.
Out of your comedian pals, who do you WhatsApp the most?
Ooh, Romesh [Ranganathan].
Romesh and I are both on tour at the minute and we WhatsApp all the time just about this or that or comedy gossip or what he’s doing. His last WhatsApp to me was he was being shown to a table for dinner, and he fell over and was really embarrassed. He was being shown to his table by someone who recognised him, ‘oh right this way sir’, and he fell over. Probably because he had a new pair of cool trainers.
You say you love gossip – what are your thought on Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson?
I mean, I’m disgusted…
I’m confused and perplexed
I love Pete Davidson, I think he’s very talented. I’m gonna do a podcast on this, it’s worth a whole podcast of discussion.
I’m not clear, and I usually am, on whether or not I’m being hustled, I’m being tricked, I’m not clear on that and I think Pete Davidson is a wonderfully talented man but I don’t know what is it about the Kardashian sisters at the minute, they’ve all got to bring home a neck tattoo.
Well, we have Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, Kravis, don’t we?
I think Kim Kardashian is trying to emulate a Kravis moment and I don’t know where it’s going. I just feel very gaslit and agitated by the whole thing right now.
I’m going to feel like a fool when they get me…
That’s it. It’s difficult that I don’t have the show to turn to, I feel really out of touch with what’s real and what’s not. I’m going to investigate, I know someone who is friends with Pete and I’m gonna get on the phone because I can’t take it anymore.
The love bite’s come out. It would make sense that Kim Kardashian is giving love bites because that’s something you do when you’re a teenager and sexually inexperienced and perhaps it points to a very business partnership in her marriage with Kanye. She’s out of practice she’s giving love bites, I don’t know, I’m gonna get to the bottom of it.
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